TGFBI Recap – Hitters

The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) drafts have now reached their completion. If you read this website often, you are already familiar with the invitational. The compilation of 21 leagues of industry experts was created by our own, Justin Mason. Each are NFBC-style 15-team leagues, with the collection vying for an overall prize – to win industry bragging rights. Last season, I had the misfortune of playing in the same league/division as the eventual winner, Clay Link. I managed a decisive 2nd place finish in the division, but alas, there was no stopping the champ.

Today, I thought that I would provide some general observations on the TGFBI drafts, review my personal team makeup, and highlight some of my player selections along the way. My goal here is not to boast about how great my team is (or not), but rather to use the experience to convey information to you about the drafting landscape of 2019. Hopefully, some nugget of wisdom found here will assist you with your draft preparation.

Then cross your fingers … and hopefully you can raise a fantasy flag later this fall.

Let’s get started with the hitters.

General Observations:

Catchers

Last season, TGFBI was a one-catcher league. This season, we are now directly following the NFBC league structure. So as to align, we have switched exclusively to the two-catcher format.

Jacob Realmuto was consistently drafted in the 4th round of TGFBI drafts. There is a large gap in the projected production between Jacob and the middle of the pack of catchers. As special guest Eno Sarris recently commented on the TGFBI Beat the Shift Podcast (I highly recommend listening to the show!), projections may not fully include the affects of his trade from Miami to Philadelphia. He may exceed expectations. With the replacement level of catchers in this format just about at an all-time low, Realmuto’s draft value is (correctly) quite high.

I was slotted this season in the #2 spot of the draft (pick #14 of even rounds). Should Realmuto have fallen to me, I would have immediately grabbed him, but he was already taken at the 5th pick of the round. Even Gary Sanchez, the general consensus 2nd best catcher was selected three picks prior to my spot in the 4th round.

The bulk of the #1 catchers were typically taken in the 8th to 10th rounds. Then, there was typically a 2nd catcher run in the 18th and 19th rounds of drafts. A “run” is a number of picks in a row where the same position is drafted over and over (or the vast majority of the contiguous picks are of one position).

Speed

Stolen bases – especially hitters for which most of their value is tied to their stolen base output – were drafted earlier than their values dictated that they should. Below are a few notable speedsters, and their TGFBI ADP statistics. Displayed are the average TGFBI draft position, min & max draft picks for this group.

Noteable Speedster TGFBI ADPs
Player Min ADP Max
Whit Merrifield 15 33.5 40
Starling Marte 26 35.9 41
Adalberto Mondesi 28 40.6 50
Jonathan Villar 65 73.8 87
Dee Gordon 83 99.2 126
Mallex Smith 77 101 122
Billy Hamilton 121 152.8 193
SOURCE: TGFBI ADP Data via Smada

Proudly, the Mallex Smith max selection at 122 belonged to yours truly.

Ariel’s TGFBI Team:

I participated in TGFBI League #6 (Board shown here) and had the fortune of making selections in the #2 draft slot. I was even more fortunate (or so I currently perceive), that Mike Trout fell to me with the second overall selection. In only 3 out of 21 leagues, Mookie Betts was selected as the #1 overall pick – and mine was one of them. In all 3 of those “Betts is Best” leagues [shall we coin the term “BIB League” ?] – Mike Trout was the definitive second pick choice.

Catchers

I had Castillo and Hedges ranked as the #9 and #13 best catchers. With my catcher positional scarcity adjustment, only 22 catchers appeared valued as “above replacement” in this format. It was my goal to pick at least two of the top 22 catchers, and I succeeded. In fact, I drafted two #1 catchers according to my projections.

First Base

Bell was one of the few cases in which I ignored ADP completely (TGFBI ADP of 229) and reached for the player. It was the earliest pick of Josh Bell across all TGFBI leagues.

At that point, my projections showed that Josh Bell’s value was starting to bubble up to the top of the ranks. I was currently without a first baseman and noticed a definitive drop in player value from Bell to the following first baseman. I also had the suspicion that my fellow FanGraphs writers, The Birchwood Brothers, might have selected Bell with the pick immediately preceding my 14th round spot. Using methodology from game theory, I decided not to gamble on losing the player to them – and drafted Bell in the 13th round.

Guzman was selected as one of my reserves to backup the 1B position. He was the top 1B on the board at the time he was drafted, which was late. Guzman isn’t an exciting pickup, he is just there in case of a Bell injury.

Third Base

It looks like I am definitely covered at the hot corner!

Chapman smashed 24 homers last season with a .278 batting average, while scoring 100 runs.  Chapman presented for good value for the end of the 8th round.

For the corner infield and (possibly) the utility slot, I snagged Kyle Seager and Maikel Franco with back-to-back picks in rounds 18 & 19. Both players have power and RBI upside. Seager is coming off of an injury plagued down season (him and his brother), and Franco now is entertained by a significant lineup upgrade surrounding him.

Longoria wasn’t needed on my roster from a positional standpoint, but in round 24 he presented to be a fantastic value to have on the bench. He will back up my other third baseman, in case of injury or cold play. With yesterday’s injury news – Kyle Seager may be out a month or more, in which case Longoria will step up to the plate on my team immediately.

Second Base

Here are some key scoring statistics for Dozier over the past few seasons:

Brian Dozier – Player Statistics
Season HR SB BA
2015 28 12 0.236
2016 42 18 0.268
2017 34 16 0.271
2018 21 12 0.215

In 2018, Dozier experienced a major reduction in output, only hitting 21 homers and falling to a .215 batting average. Was this a skills decline, or was there something else going on?

Brian Dozier – Batted Ball Metrics
Season LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2015 22.6% 33.3% 44.1% 13.1%
2016 15.9% 36.4% 47.7% 18.4%
2017 19.0% 38.4% 42.6% 16.8%
2018 16.8% 39.5% 43.7% 11.2%

In terms of batted ball metrics, there isn’t a huge change or reduction of skills for the 2018 season, other than the HR/FB rate. This may have just been a fluke and Dozier should regress upwards.

To me, the larger factor may have been that Dozier was playing through a knee injury for the majority of the season. We aren’t sure exactly when the injury occurred, but Dozier was batting over .300 through most of April last season. If poor health was the issue for Dozier in ‘18, then a rebound to 25+ HR and a ~.250 BA should be doable. This would make Dozier a nice bargain in the 10th round, where I grabbed him.

Shortstop

I have already written about Jose Peraza (here). I was happy with buying him as my SS at that point in the draft.

I preferred some other similarly priced middle infielders to Adames, however, in my draft there was a massive run on middle infielders in the 15th and 16th rounds. Adames was one of two middle infielders left with a large remaining value. I snagged the youngster with promise – to be my middle infielder.

Outfield

As mentioned above, I lucked out by selecting Mike Trout with the #2 pick of the draft. There isn’t much more to say about Trout that you don’t already know.

Pham is a potential 25/25 player, and with health – a 30/30 player. As a round 5 selection, he was a great value with a strong multi-category base of stats.

Castellanos was covered in my Runs Scored Bargains article.

I covered Max Kepler on the outfield preview episode of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational Podcast, but in a nutshell – Kepler is a later round play for power. At that point in this draft, I needed HRs and RBIs, and Kepler will help with that.

Mallex Smith, who has 40 SB upside fell to me in Round 9 – the farthest that he had fallen in all 21 TGFBI leagues. Speed has been going early, so this was a perfect opportunity to acquire a 40+ SB threat player. Smith has a nice batting average to boot.

Roster Flexibility

I don’t want to spend much time talking about these players – but generally, it is useful to have a number of multi-positional eligible players on your roster. Between the two, I get insurance for almost every critical position other than catcher. Hernandez and Perez have also been quite useful fantasy assets when they play, although they aren’t projected for full playing time.

_____________________________________________________

In my next post, I will take a look at pitching observations within TGFBI. I will also finish the recap of my personal team.

We hoped you liked reading TGFBI Recap – Hitters by Ariel Cohen!

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Ariel was a finalist for two 2018 FSWA Awards - Baseball Article of the Year, and Baseball Writer of the Year. Ariel is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports and Sportsline, and is the host of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational - Beat the Shift Podcast. Ariel and his fantasy partner, Reuven Guy, have used the ATC system projections to finish in the money in several NFBC, RTSports, Doubt Wars and other national leagues, racking up several division titles. Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Drat & Hold League. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

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hitbypitchratio
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hitbypitchratio

Great read, Ariel, but could you explain the methodology you mention here or provide a link? “Using methodology from game theory, I decided not to gamble on losing the player to them – and drafted Bell in the 13th round.”
Thanks!